Over the past year, technology has become more important than ever. As geographic boundaries and health concerns created endless challenges, new innovations proved essential to keeping us all in touch.
With the final quarter of 2021 fast approaching, let’s explore some of the latest and greatest trends across the world of technology.
Facial recognition: A booming but complex industry
Facial recognition systems use AI-enabled algorithms to identify distinctive details about a person’s face. These details — often referred to as nodal points — can include the distance between someone’s eyes, the length of their face or the shape of their nose. This information is then converted into a mathematical representation that is compared to other faces to determine who the individual is.
There has been a sharp rise in venture funding across the facial recognition market, with investments coming in at over $500 million just halfway through 2021, as reported by TechCrunch. The technology is already being used in a variety of settings, including schools, stadiums, casinos and retail stores.
As facial recognition continues to draw massive interest from investors, regulators and policymakers are voicing significant privacy concerns. These groups are introducing important questions, such as how the tech and biometric data could be misused by private companies in the future.
Although the ethical implications remain unclear, the potential applications of facial recognition tools have yet to be fully explored, creating a vast and uncharted territory for the technology industry as a whole.
Technology unicorns: No longer just a fantasy
The phrase technology unicorn was first coined by a company called CowBoy Ventures in 2013 to refer to what was then a rare occurrence: privately held startups that were valued at $1 billion or more. However, as the Economist explained, this once “rare and mythical species” has suddenly become more of your average bear.
The number of firms that meet this billion dollar threshold has grown from just over a dozen in 2013 to more than 750, all of which are valued at over $2.4 trillion. In the first six months of 2021, technology startups raised nearly $300 billion globally — nearly as much as in the whole of 2020.
While this venture-capital boom presents a risk for would-be investors, the heightened competitive landscape and growing success of these companies offer consumers and companies alike the ability to benefit from a seemingly endless supply of new technologies.
Environmental technology: Innovation for the good of the planet
Environmental technology — digital tools used to monitor, converse or reduce environmental impact — has been growing rapidly over the course of 2021.
As BusinessWire reports, one international study found that the market is currently estimated to be valued at over $550 billion, a figure that’s likely to reach almost $700 billion within the next five years. These technologies have an array of eco-friendly uses, including preventing or mitigating pollution, managing or reducing waste output, and designing and operating new, more environmentally friendly infrastructure.
Although environmental technology can be applied to nearly every industry, leaders across the following have become especially interested in utilizing the tools for their day-to-day operations:
- Retail and consumer goods
- Construction and building materials
- Government and defense
As policymakers and global leaders become more focused on harnessing renewable energy to slow or reverse the effects of climate change, environmental technology will prove to play an important role.
QR Codes: Back and better than ever
QR Codes are hardly a new concept. First developed in 1994, these small barcodes are a machine-readable label that can contain data, links or any other information you’re looking to share with others.
So why are we talking about a technology that’s been around for over 25 years?
Fueled by a need for touchless transactions, QR codes popped up just about everywhere during the pandemic, giving businesses a way to connect with consumers that was safe and socially distanced. As the New York Times reported, these retail-friendly barcodes show no sign of going away anytime soon. Restaurants have adopted them at large, retailers — including CVS and Foot Locker — have added them to checkout registers and marketers have used them across packaging, direct mail, billboards and TV advertisements.
Because QR codes can store digital information, such as when, where and how often a scan occurs, the technology is helping businesses to leverage more advanced targeting and analytics, allowing them to offer consumers the right products when they’re needed most.
As digital marketing tactics continue to evolve, QR codes are likely to play a key role in a new age media.
Stay ahead of technology with Faronics
With more than a quarter of the year to go, it’s difficult to predict what the rest of 2021 holds when it comes to technology. However, we can be sure the next few months will be filled with innovation — and, even more likely, the announcement of a new smartphone or two.
Learn more about these technology trends and others influencing the industry by keeping up with our blog at Faronics.